Chemo holiday!

It’s a Tuesday and normally I’d be having chemo today. Thats been my routine almost every Tuesday since July. I’m at hospital as usual but I’m only having a magnesium drip. No toxic drugs. I’m very happy to say that my treatment has finished!!!

You have no idea how glad I am to be on a chemo holiday. I dreaded each Tuesday more and more. As I traipsed to hospital, I’d often be in a foul mood.

This has been the hardest chemo with chronic vomiting and crippling tiredness. The side effects have been horrific but whats been more difficult to deal with is the relentless nature of going through treatment. At it’s worst, it seemed like there was no end in sight. 

My last treatment was chemo number 59. That’s in total since my first ever toxic cocktail more than a decade ago. It’s a score that I think is horrific and yet somehow impressive at the same time.

For this last treatment I was on a clinical trial. This means it wasn’t one of the standard chemos that’s offered to cancer patients. Part of the reason for the research is to determine the best dose for this new drug. I started off on a high dose and then it was reduced. There is no point of being on a low level of the stuff which does nothing. I was really ill until we found the right dose for me.

This was a phase one clinical trial so I was one of the first group of humans to test the drug. Plenty more patients will take part in trials before it could potentially become available as a standard treatment option. But that could take a while. The whole research process is far far longer than most people realise. 

I feel privileged to have had access to this new drug. It’s exciting to be part of something thats so cutting edge and could help many people in the future. Like a lot of women with ovarian cancer, I’ve become resistant to the most common chemo thats used to treat the disease.

The best thing is that the new treatment has worked. My tumours have shrunk and my cancer is stable. This is the first chemo which has managed to shrink the tumours. There is also a chance that it’s made my clever cancer become more stupid. The result has made all the sickness and exhaustion worth it.

I’m going to make the most of this time. I’ll be ticking some more things off my List for Living. Right now I’m recovering. With the chemo and steroids slowly leaving my body, I’m able to start eating more healthily. I’m also trying to build up my stamina. As someone who often has to sit down to clean my teeth, thats going to take a while.

Hopefully I will now have several months, maybe more before I have to face chemo number 60. Please don’t tell me to be positive and that it might be considerably longer. I’m positive but I’m also pragmatic.

Each time I’ve finished chemo I’ve desperately dreamed that I could have years without needing another toxic cocktail. But my chemo holiday never lasts more than a few months. When you get that news, the disappointment is crushing.

To try to ease some of that next time, I’m prepared for just a short break. I’d like to be proved wrong.

17 thoughts on “Chemo holiday!

  1. Congratulation, what brilliant news, all that vomitting is worth it when there are real benefits and shrunken tumours! Enjoy the holiday, get yourself as well as possible and celebrate every Tuesday with something really rather fabulous and a glass of fizz! Tick as much off that list for living and enjoy every moment x

  2. So pleased to hear you’ve been in a clinical trial- I’m an oncology research nurse and it’s your participation in these trials that helps build the basis for future treatments without which there would be no hope for beating this disease-hope you quickly recover from the toxicities and able to tick some more things off your list xx

  3. It’s not just your list for living, it’s your lust for living that’s so fantastic! Always looking forward and ready to make the best of every moment – even when the wretched poison’s still working it’s way through your veins. Hope you recover from 59 swiftly so you can crack on with whatever’s next on the list – and tell us about it! x

  4. Wishing you a VERY !!! long and rewarding chemo holiday. Thanks for the update x

  5. Dearest Helen, just thinking about you today and wondering how you were getting along, so glad to hear the chemo holiday news. Hope you get a real holiday in too. Really hope you’re proved wrong. Sending lots of love from us all xxxx

  6. Keep fighting. You are a warrior. Wishing you good things and a long break from chemo. Be blessed.

  7. Helen,

    I have run marathons, studied to be a lawyer, had 3 children (well my wife did) but I picked up the consequences!!

    And yet the hardest thing I have ever done in my life is have 8 cycles of chemotherapy for bowel cancer.

    59 … f**kin* hell.

    Not much more I can say. Keep blogging. You are wonderful and want to see you on the telly again.

    Andrew (Sussex)

  8. Helen I’m not going to tell you to “be positive” – how could any of us lecture YOU about how to face up to cancer even if you can’t face it down? But I do want to tell you again that you are inspiring – your appetite for life and sheer bloody minded determination shine through your writing about all the terrible pain and vomiting and overwhelming tiredness. Thank you for continuing to write and for writing so superbly. P x

  9. Glad you’re getting a break from chemo, it sounds a truly miserable experience, but, for a good reason especially if it leads to extra time for you and many others. Get strong and get out there! Xx

  10. this is really great news helen! it’s so relieving to know that your suffering was not in vain and that the treatment has made a difference. i cn imagine the doubts some patients have about chemo and its effectiveness can be really crippling. i hope you get your strength back soon and get on with doing happy things.

  11. I can’t believe your resilience…whilst I am on constant treatment, I know that I will never “do” chemo again…I love your blog and carry your hardships, hiccups and joys with me!

  12. I’m glad your latest series of treatments was effective. That’s great news for everyone with any form of cancer, and I’m excited for you and those that follow in the trials. For myself, I’ve learned to set the bar pretty low when it comes to my health – that way, I’m less disappointed when the bad stuff happens, but I still have something positive to aim for. That said, Cancer Sucks, and I wish we didn’t have it!

  13. All the best Helen and enjoy our springtime with new plants and new possibilities- hope your chemo holiday lasts a long time

  14. Thank you for updating. You are amazingly courageous and I hope you thoroughly enjoy every moment of your chemo holiday. All best wishes x

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